All posts by Sean McCain

Bruce Goff- The Bavinger House

The Bavinger House in Norman, Oklahoma looked beautiful. It was built by Bruce Goff in 1955 and considered an example of organic architecture. From my understanding, organic architecture gives the appearance of being scavenged; building out of spare parts found lying around.  To me, The Bacinger House looks like a pirate ship. The spiraling epicenter gives the impression of a mast, and the various ropes keep it all together. The quartz embedded into the rock does seem organic, but it also unmistakably locates this building to Oklahoma. Honestly, this may be tied for my favorite Goff building out all he has ever done.

Bruce Goff- The Bachman House

The Bachman House confuses me. It was designed by architect Bruce Goff between 1947 and 1948. Well, the house was actually built in 1889 and redesigned by him for a recording engineer. It is a very unusual building. This is the building that allows me to see more of Goff’s design sensibilities than any other I have examined. It’s a building that looks sharp—mean, almost—with its tall brick walls and steel slabs. But the way that the second story all leads up to a single angle looks really pleasing. It’s also the first of two buildings by Bruce Goff that remind me of a pirate ship.

Bruce Goff- The Hopewell Baptist Church

The Hopewell Baptist Church is another of Bruce Goff’s works that I have personally visited. It was built in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1950. This building seems to blend Stereotypical Native American Symbols with common buildings sensibilities from modern Oklahoma. It’s in the shape of a tepee, yet each of the supports are named for the 12 Apostles. It’s odd to apply Christian mythos to Native American symbols. The whole building seems done on a frugal budget, and it isn’t very pleasant to look at.

Bruce Goff- The Pavilion for Japanese Art

The Pavilion for Japanese Art found in Los Angeles was constructed in 1978. It was one the last buildings designed by Bruce Goff, and it was only completed after his death by architect Bart Prince.  The Pavilion for Japanese Art is easily my favorite of Goff’s works still standing.  I love all of the edges and the central spiral stair case. This is a build that knows how to use its space, unlike the Riverside Studio in Tulsa. The flora that cover up entire walls disguises the slightly stiff shape enough to give it a more unique form. I enjoy how the stairs and the ramp cross over each other. All the different lines of the building intersect in very unique ways.

Bruce Goff- The Riverside Studio

The Riverside Studio was built in Tulsa in 1928, a year before the Boston Avenue Methodist Church. It was designed by architect Bruce Goff for a singular person, a music teacher by the name of Patti Adams Shriner. It’s fascinating that it was originally built as home, even with a large studio. My initial impression is that it’s a church of some kind. The material and make appear to be adobe. I enjoy the windows that stack diagonally, and give the impression of stairs. Ultimately, I think it’s kind of ugly because of how boxy the shape is. The roof is too flat and the walls are too straight.

Bruce Goff- The Boston Avenue Methodist Church

is located in downtown Tulsa. It was completed in the late 1920’s, and is one of the most prominent examples for Art Deco by architect, Bruce Goff. I enjoy the stretched out quality of the building with the tall spires, and three stories of windows stacked on top of one another. It seems very much like a building from the 2013 film, The Great Gatsby.  It belongs in the roaring 20’s. I actually visited this building almost a decade ago. I remember being enchanted by it as if I were looking at a castle. Particularly the tower that reaches past 200 feet.

The Altare della Patria

rome italy

The Altare della Patria stuck me as unusual for the rest of the architecture found in the city. It seems different in the kind of way that it seemed American. It serves as a memorial and museum for the unknown solider; built in the early 1900’s. The shape is boxy, and it lacks domes. The surrounding streets are all very build motor ways. It doesn’t fit in, and it seems like an unusual combination of classic form and modern sensibilities. Unfortunately, it does neither very well.  It feels closer to the Lincoln memorial than to any other building in Italy.

St. Peter’s Basilica

vatican city italy

St. Peter’s Basilica had me in awe due to the historic and religious significance of the building. Out of all the buildings I visited, this one seemed the most classical in terms of architect form. The stone steps lead up the arch way. It has the roman pillars in the front upholding the triangular arch way. In between the two lies an engraved Latin phrase. Statues, perfectly space, rest above at regular intervals on the rooftop. This building, in my opinion, has laid the groundwork for a great deal of architectural work that follows. Without proper professional education, I make the claim that this building is the Ur-building for many more contemporary architects.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria

florence italy

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore was the building I spent the most time observing during my travels. I enjoyed its pristine white materials alongside the red roofing. This building was unique to me due to its emphasized form of roundness in contrast to the spires of Milan’s Duomo. It features many domes and circular windows. What’s not shown in the photo is how claustrophobic the plaza is around the building. The surrounding structures close in leaving very little room in between this incredibly large building and the city around it.

Saint Mark’s Basilic

venice italy

Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice is a beautiful building, but unfortunately one that I did not get the chance to inspect closely. It was closed off to the public the day I visited for reconstruction. I immediately noticed the colors present in this building than the other duomos of Italy. The bright yellows and starkly contrasting blues pop out along with the covered outside murals. This sense of color must be a compensation for Venice’s consistent overcast and grey skies. This building also features two sets of columns stacked vertically that provides the same base aesthetic as a skyscraper.